Leptin, Obesity & Weight Loss 

Posted August 14, 2011; Updated November 24, 2021. Disclaimer The information presented here is for informative and educational purposes only and is not intended as curative or prescriptive advice.  This is work in progress.

The cause of obesity and losing body weight  Article by Gallard: American diet is no longer active. has been a controversy for over 40 years. Weight loss diets have not worked for most persons trying to lose weght! Hence, there is a lot of confusion and controversy about obesity and weight loss.  The good news is that In 1994 researchers discovered a hormone made by the body itself that appears to have great promise in helping control our body weight! This article is about this new science discovery that many doctors and weight loss experts do not know about or have ignored!

The new discovery is Leptin: a protein that's made in the fat cells, circulates in the bloodstream, and goes to the brain. "Leptin is the way your fat cells tell your brain that your energy thermostat is set right."  Kam: leptin & obesity

"The problem with sliding down the slippery slope of slow and progressive weight gain over the years is that you may have a lot of trouble pulling yourself up and out of the hole. In fact, new science says you most likely caused brain damage by eating too much food. Such damage causes you to crave and eat what you know you shouldn’t."  Richards: food cravings & brain damage  This is a quote from an superb and simplified article by Richards about how leptin affects your body.

99.99% of overweight people make too much leptin; however, the leptin does not get into the brain properly (leptin resistance), so they sort of behave like the person who makes no leptin at all.

Leptin, labeled the 'hungry hormone,' is a most powerful regulator that tells the brain what to do about life's two main biological goals: eating and reproduction. Your fat, by way of leptin, tells your brain whether you should be hungry, eat and make more fat, whether you should reproduce and make babies, or (partly by controlling insulin) whether to "hunker down" and work overtime to maintain and repair yourself. One could make a very convincing and scientifically accurate statement that rather than your brain being in control of the rest of your body, your brain is, in fact, subservient to your fat -- and leptin.  

Below is a short video by Byron J. Richards introducing the hormone leptin. 

It is just as important when you eat as what you eat!  Watch Byron Richards, leading Leptin expert, explain The Leptin Diet 5 Rules, and why they are so important to follow for weight management and optimum health. "Learn how to eat in harmony with the hormone leptin."  Video: The Leptin Diet 10 mns.


The video has no doubt aroused a lot of curiosity about leptin and weight loss.  How real is this information about leptin?   Below is the text version of the video.  This will allow you to get more acquainted with the five rules of the leptin diet. 

 The Five Rules of the The Leptin Diet are:  Richards: 5 diet rules

    Rule 1: Never eat after dinner.
    Rule 2: Eat three meals a day.
    Rule 3: Do not eat large meals.
    Rule 4: Eat a breakfast containing protein.
    Rule 5: Reduce the amount of carbohydrates eaten.

Let’s take a look at each of these rules a little more closely.

RULE 1: NEVER EAT AFTER DINNER  Richards: 5 diet rules

Allow 11-12 hours between dinner [last meal of the day ] and breakfast. Never go to bed on a full stomach. Finish eating dinner at least three hours before bed.

One of leptin’s main rhythms follows a 24-hour pattern. Leptin levels are highest in the evening hours. This is because leptin, like the conductor in the orchestra, sets the timing for nighttime repair. It coordinates the timing and release of melatonin, thyroid hormone, growth hormone, sex hormones, and immune system function to carry out rejuvenating sleep. It does this while burning fat at the maximum rate compared to any other time of the day. And it does this only if you will allow it, by not eating after dinner.

It is pretty obvious when this isn’t working so well. Your extra carvings for food may begin around 4 o’clock in the afternoon and certainly later in the evening. These cravings are powered by a misguided leptin signal to eat, causing strong urges that often overwhelm your will power and self control. If you are in this situation you will find yourself circling the refrigerator and cupboards, like an animal hunting its prey. You will find excuses to obtain food and often will then plop yourself in front of the TV and begin to eat. This is the leptin nightmare, the drive to acquire food even though rationally you know you don’t need it.

Make every effort to not eat after dinner at night.


Allow 5-6 hours between meals. Do not snack.

It is vital to create times during the day when small fat blobs, known as triglycerides, are cleared from your blood. If triglycerides build up during the day they physically clog leptin entry into your brain, causing leptin resistance – meaning that leptin cannot register properly in your subconscious command and control center. Your metabolism is not designed to deal with constant eating and snacking. Doing so confuses your metabolism and results in you eating much more than you really need. Eating too often is like a repetitive strain injury, like tennis elbow but in this case leptin elbow.

Yes, you are supposed to get a snack between meals – but it is supposed to come from your liver. This is how your body naturally clears triglycerides from your blood. Besides that fact that these fat blobs confuse leptin, they are also headed in the direction of your hips, thighs, and stomach. So breaking them down and clearing them out is vital, and this only happens when you allow 5-6 hours between meals. When you clear your circulatory highways of extra fat during the day then leptin works better. When you do a great job during the day then you are much more likely to break down and burn stored fat from your hips and thighs while you are sleeping.

Snacking turns out to be one of the worst things you can do. It doesn’t matter how many calories you snack on, when you snack you throw powerful hormonal switches that cause leptin to malfunction. The fictitious idea that snacking is needed to stoke your metabolism or maintain your blood sugar is in no small part behind dietary advice that has helped cause an epidemic of obesity.


If you are overweight, always try to finish a meal when slightly less than full, the full signal will usually catch up in 10-20 minutes. Eating slowly is important. As you improve you will start getting full signals at your meals – listen to this internal cue and stop eating.

One of the traits of the non-obese French population, that is before the American junk food industry swooped down upon them, is that their people listen to the internal full signal. In America, especially in those who are overweight, portion size is determined by what is available – this is called the see food diet – what you see is what you eat.

Unless you are a super active individual with very high physical output of energy, the fastest way to cause leptin problems is to eat large meals. It does not matter if the meal is composed mostly of fat, carbohydrate, or protein. Consistently eating large meals is the easiest way there is to poison your body with food.


Your metabolism can increase by 30% for as long as 12 hours from a high-protein meal; the calorie-burning equivalent of a two to three mile jog. A high-carbohydrate breakfast such as juice, cereal, waffles, pancakes, or bagels does not enhance metabolic rate more than 4%, especially when eaten with little protein.

This rule is especially important for individuals who struggle with energy, food cravings, and/or body weight. In general, it is a necessity for anyone over the age of 40. While some people may be able to run their metabolism just fine on a higher carbohydrate breakfast for a number of years, this tends not to be the case for any person struggling with their weight.

The two signs of a poor breakfast are:

1) You are unable to make it five hours to lunch without food cravings or your energy crashing.
2) You are much more prone to strong food cravings later that afternoon or evening.

Eggs are a good breakfast, just not smothered in butter and cheese. Cottage cheese is another high protein breakfast food, and along with a serving of complex carbohydrate or fruit makes a great breakfast. Even a few tablespoons of peanut butter or almond butter (not half the jar) on a piece of toast could work well, especially if you are in a hurry.


Carbohydrates are easy-to-use fuels. If you eat too many of them there is no need for your body to dip into its savings account. It is very important that you eat some carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are needed or your thyroid turns off, electrolytes become dis-regulated, muscles weaken, growth hormone is not released correctly, fat is not burned efficiently, there is an unsatisfied feeling after a meal, your heart can become stressed, and your digestive system may go on the blink. Richards certainly does not advocate a no-carbohydrate diet. You don’t want to make yourself into a carbohydrate cripple.

However, most overweight individuals eat two or more times the amount of carbohydrates they are able to metabolize. If you are trying to lose weight an easy way to do this is what I call the 50/50 technique. Look at the food on your plate. You want to see a palm-size portion of protein (a 4-6 ounce portion for women; 6-8 ounce portion for men). And then you want to see a palm size amount of the carbohydrates, a 50/50 visual. This way there is no calorie counting. Compare the protein (chicken, meat, turkey, eggs) to the carbohydrates (bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, fruit, corn, squash, etc,). Fill up on fiber rich vegetables as desired.

In summary, one key take home message about the science of leptin is that it is just as important when you eat as what you eat. Eating throws powerful hormonal switches. Make sure you throw them at the right time so that your body can do what it was intended to do. When you eat in harmony with leptin your head will feel clearer and your energy better, your cravings will go away, and your health will improve. There is a lot of power in these five simple rules.  Richards: 5 diet rules

NOTE:  Another medical doctor, Scott Isaacs, has his own version of how to lose weight and a lot of very good information about leptin.

Richards has a free e-newsletter, which will deliver breaking news on leptin, thyroid, and weight management right to your inbox. 

To order the:  Leptin Connection E-Booklet

Now for the "nuts and bolts" of leptin! 

 What is leptin? 

Human leptin is a protein of 167 amino acids. It is manufactured primarily in the adipocytes of white adipose tissue.  The level of circulating leptin is directly proportional to the total amount of fat in the body. In addition to white adipose tissue — the major source of leptin — it can also be produced by brown adipose tissue, placenta (syncytiotrophoblasts), ovaries, skeletal muscle, stomach (lower part of fundic glands), mammary epithelial cells, bone marrow, pituitary and liver. Wiki:Leptin

 Leptin Function:  Leptin acts on receptors in the hypothalamus of the brain where it inhibits appetite.

Our body has evolved to use a very efficient pair of hormones which signal the brain when it`s time to eat, or when we`ve had enough food. Leptin [ regulates brain appestat center ] and ghrelin [ signals pleasure eating and signals stomach’s craving for food ] are the hormonal messengers responsible for our desire to eat, our craving for certain foods and whether we store excess calories as body fat...  Leptin news

What does Leptin do?

Leptin Regulates Metabolism And Appetite:

     It lets your brain know how much fat is in your body. As leptin levels rise, your appetite diminishes. As leptin levels fall, your appetite increases.
     It regulates the rate of fat breakdown. As leptin levels rise, your metabolic rate increases. As leptin levels fall, your metabolism slows.

The number of calories you burn is regulated by thermogenesis, a process in which the body makes heat, mainly in the muscles. According to recent research from Monash University in Australia, the hormone leptin can substantially increase thermogenesis, helping to burn fat.

Research done at the Laval University in Quebec found that 7-8 hours of sleep each night, on average, was associated with relatively higher levels of leptin. In contrast, getting less sleep meant lower levels of leptin and higher body mass index in the study.   Galland: Leptin diet works for you

There is some controversy regarding the regulation of leptin by melatonin during the night. One research group suggested that increased levels of melatonin caused a down regulation of leptin.[12] However, in 2004, Brazilian researchers found that melatonin increases leptin levels in the presence of insulin, therefore causing a decrease in appetite during sleeping.  Wiki:Leptin

According to the latest research, leptin plays an important role in appetite control, metabolism and weight loss. It is your body's natural weight control mechanism. And the great thing about leptin is that it is produced naturally in the body.  Galland: Leptin diet works for you

How leptin works:   "Leptin is known as the fat-hormone because it is made in your white adipose tissue, or stored fat. Following a meal leptin is released from your fat, enters your blood, and travels to your brain delivering a message that you are full and also letting your subconscious brain know how much fuel you have on hand (like the gas gauge in your car).

Leptin resistance: One of the simple-case leptin problems encountered by any person who is overweight is that the leptin "gas gauge" is sticky, and leptin is not entering your brain correctly (leptin resistance). This produces a false state of perceived starvation, meaning you feel hungry and your subconscious brain thinks your fuel tank is near empty, even though you have plenty of stored fat on hand. This causes you to eat more food than you really need to eat.

Because of today’s abundance of food, most people have developed leptin resistance. Leptin resistance causes the brain to ignore the signal of satiety sent by leptin, thus making us feel hungry even when we’re really full.  Endocrinologist Scott Isaacs outlines the symptoms of leptin resistance:  Isaacs: Symptoms of leptin resistance

You must keep leptin in a state of healthy balance for your metabolism to work correctly and your appetite to be under control. This is not a situation where you take leptin hormone as a substance. This is a situation wherein diet, exercise, lifestyle (stress management in particular), getting restful sleep, and various nutrients help to optimize the function of leptin in your body."  

 Key signs of a leptin problem include:    Richards: Leptin books

    uncontrollable sugar and food cravings
    late night eating
    stress eating
    weight gain around the middle
    unable to reach a goal weight
    yo-yo dieting
    low thyroid symptoms

 Leptin dysfunction causes many problems:   Richards: Leptin books   Rosedale: Health disease & aging

Leptin is the way that your fat stores speak to your brain to let your brain know how much energy is available and, very importantly, what to do with it. Therefore, leptin may be "on top of the food chain" in metabolic importance and relevance to disease.  Rosedale: Health disease & aging 

hypothalamus_web For the girl on the left, her hypothalamus is correctly sensing leptin and maintaining her body with normal weight, while for the girl on the right, her hypothalamus is not correctly sensing leptin and therefore, her body cannot lose weight, but continues to store fat, virtually regardless of how little she eats or how much she exercises.

Eating too much, eating too late in the evening or at night, snacking between meals, lack of exercise, and stress can all cause health problems by disrupting the function of leptin: 

These factors have now been proven regardless of a person's body weight. Conversely, proper leptin function is highly protective of all factors relating to cardiovascular health.  Richards: Leptin books   The treatment of cardiovascular disorders needs to seriously consider the affect leptin has on the body.

When a person eats is actually more important than what they eat.
Snacking turns out to be one of the most harmful eating habits.

Those individuals who make a habit of eating late at night are on a fast track to accelerated aging, poor sleep, and poor health. This is not a fad diet, this is the new science – and every person needs to understand what it is all about.   Richards: Leptin books

Hugely obese children have been found who have an inability to lose weight due to a genetic inability to produce leptin. Injections of leptin have had dramatic weight loss effects. It appears that, if one cannot make leptin, the brain thinks there is no fat and spurs the person on to eat more and more in a futile effort to get the leptin signal that fat is present. However, the effect of leptin on people who are obese but can make leptin normally appears to be different.

 Leptin levels: 

leptinlevels Leptin in relation to demographics: Leptin levels in healthy women are substantially higher than in healthy men. The third National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES III) conducted by the National Centre for Health Statistics of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), involving randomly selected 3366 women and 2937 men aged≥20 years, found that the mean serum leptin level was much higher in women (12.7 μg/ L) than in men (4.6 μg/L). Also leptin levels were shown to be significantly higher in non-Hispanic blacks than in non-Hispanic whites of both sexes, and Mexican Americans had concentrations that were intermediate.  Singh: CVD risk

 Measuring leptin level in your body: 

According to Dr. Scott Isaacs, M.D., author of "The Leptin Boost Diet" and "Hormonal Balance" by Byron Richards M.D., there is no effective test to measure leptin levels or resistance, but other tests or markers are used to determine leptin resistance levels.  Russell: checking leptin level  Check these articles for suggestions on how to evaluate your leptin level.  Measuring leptin  Russell: checking leptin level

Getting a leptin test:  These is controversy between the two experts on leptin [ who say there is not reliable test at this time ] and the lab companies [ who espouse lab tests ].  High-tech research labs are currently investigating different tests to determine how accurately each calculates blood leptin levels. One such test, called the Competitive ELISA Kit, has shown promise as a possible accurate measure of blood leptin levels. According to the American Physiological Society, high levels calculated by that method were strongly correlated with decreased weight, while low levels were found in heavier individuals.  Measuring leptin 

Potential Factors that Raise Leptin Levels:  Article by Douglas labs is no longer active.

    Elevated triglyceride levels
    Tenormin (atenolol)
    DiaBeta (glibenclamide)
    Cocaine and amphetamines
    Seroquel (quetiapine)
    Risperdal (risperidone)
    Neurontin (gabapentin)
    Depakote (valproate)
    Decadron (dexamethasone)
      Increased stress
      Decreased sleep
      Lack of physical activity
      Following a high glycemic index diet
      Increase relative to normal caloric intake

Nutritional Supplements That Can Help Lower Leptin Levels:

    •Carnitine (powder)
    •Conjugated linoleic acid
    •Omega-3-fatty acids
    •Vitamin D

ALERT: This is clinical information intended for medical doctors and labs.


The conclusion of researchers [ see references ] about leptin is that leptin affects our appetite, metabolism and can be a major cause of disorders and diseases or good health. There is a definite lack of awareness about leptin by the general public and lack of understanding by medical doctors.   Leptin's critical importance is largely unknown to the medical community because there are no known drugs that regulate its activities and therefore there is no incentive to spend money to educate doctors about leptin's crucial role in health and disease. Article by Mercola: diabetes obesity link to leptin is no longer active.   Rosedale: Health disease & aging    This does not lessen the need of doctors to know about leptin!

In spite to public ignorance, there is scientific proof that leptin does regulate appetite and body metabolism.  Leptin can help with obesity and general health. We all need to rethink how the body is regulated and how we may improve our health. 

Public education needs to re-focus on the new concepts of what, how and when we eat.  And we need more good research about leptin, nutrition and optimal well-being. 

The eating-diet principles suggested by Richards are guided by the affects of leptin on the brain and body.  This approach is based on science and common sense and has more merit than the experimental diets suggested by weight loss proponents. But not everyone following the Richards will lose weight. Those wishing to lose weight will need will-power, desire and discipline to lose weight. Just knowing about the Richards 5 step diet is not enough!

We need to re-shape and re-design how we live. Research tells us that Americans have sloppy lifestyles that make them 'fat' sick: "We are in denial. 9 out of 10 people believe they eat a healthy diet. Compared to 100 years ago, Americans consume 62% more meat, 870% more cheese, 1600% more frozen dairy products and 2400% more oil. On any given day, 95% of Americans do not exercise. According to researchers at Yale University, 84% of parents take their children to a fast food restaurant at least once a week."

By ignoring the leptin recipe for good health, we inadvertently make ourselves sick.  We need to eat in harmony with leptin.  We need to identify reinforcements for good lifestyle from our loved ones, your friends and even the government.  Make friends with those that make you a better person!  Abandon your bad habits for leptin habits!  You need to change!

Alert:   You should also check out how toxins can interfere with obesity. [scroll to "toxins interfere with weight loss ]

Flirting with hormones on your own is like playing with dynamite.  Like dynamite, your hormones can get out of control and "***BOOM.***"  Change under the guidance of a medical doctor.   


Chung CP, Long AG, Solus JF, Rho YH, Oeser A, Raggi P, Stein CM, "Adipocytokines in systemic lupus erythematosus: relationship to inflammation, insulin resistance and coronary atherosclerosis," Lupus. August 18,)2009:799-806.  Chung: leptin affects lupus

In conclusion, patients with SLE have increased concentrations of adiponectin, leptin and visfatin. Lower concentrations of adiponectin and higher concentrations of leptin are associated with insulin resistance, BMI and CRP in patients with SLE.

Galland Leo, M.D., "Leptin: How to Make This Fat-Burning Hormone Work for You," The Internet newspaper, January 13, 2011.  Galland: Leptin diet works for you  Book: The Fat Resistance Diet.

Galland Leo, M.D., "The Standard American Diet (SAD)," Pill Advised.   Article by Gallard: American diet is no longer active.

El-Badawy Reda Mohammed, Abdullah Saeed Al-Ghamdi, Ibrahim Abdulkarim Al-Mofleh, "Concepts in leptin and liver disease," The Saudi Journal of gastrology, 2004 Volume: 10 Issue: 2 Page : 57-66.   El-Badawy: cirrhosis  "circulating leptin level are increased in cirrhosis, hepatitis C virus (HCV) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)"

Ha Kim, Choi GS, Jeon JY, Yoon JM, Sung JM, Suh CH. "Leptin and ghrelin in Korean systemic lupus erythematosus," Lupus, February 19, 2010 (2):170-4.   Ha: Leptin - Lupus in Korea

Abstract:  Elevated serum leptin levels have been described in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), however these studies have provided no information regarding the ghrelin levels. We investigated the clinical significance of serum leptin and ghrelin levels in SLE. The leptin levels of SLE patients were higher than those of normal healthy controls, while the ghrelin levels of the SLE were lower. In addition, the ghrelin levels were significantly lower in SLE patients with arthritis and hematologic disorder. Taken together, these findings suggest that leptin and ghrelin play a role in clinical manifestations observed in SLE.

"How to Measure Leptin."  Measuring leptin

Hu F B, C Chen, B Wang, M J Stampfer and X Xu, "Leptin concentrations in relation to overall adiposity, fat distribution, and blood pressure in a rural Chinese population," International Journal of Obesity, January 2001, Volume 25, Number 1, Pages 121-125.   Hu: leptin in Chinese

"We observed a strong positive relationship between overall adiposity and leptin levels in both men and women in a rural Chinese population. In addition, leptin concentrations were significantly associated with central obesity measured by waist to hip ratio and abdominal skinfold, independent of overall obesity."

Isaacs Scott M.D., "Leptin Not Working?" Ezine Articles.   Isaacs: Symptoms of leptin resistance

Kam Katherine, "The truth about the hormone leptin and obesity," WebMD, Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD   Kam: leptin & obesity

Leptin news, articles and information: Natural News, September 17, 2010.   Leptin news

Mercola , "Leptin: How Diabetes and Obesity Are Linked," Mercola.com, April 02 2005.   Article by Mercola: diabetes obesity link to leptin is no longer active.

"Research on mice has suggested that eptin is the key, as it regulates blood sugar through two different brain-body passageways:
•One: Responsible for controlling appetite and fat storage
•Two: Responsible for telling the liver what to do with its stored glucose "

Richards Byron J., "Are Food Cravings and Excess Food Consumption a Sign of Brain Damage?" Byron J. Richards Wellness resources, July 12, 2011.   Richards: food cravings & brain damage

Richards Byron J., "The Five Rules of The Leptin Diet®," Weight Loss News, January 12, 2009   Richards: 5 diet rules

Richards Byron J., "THE LEPTIN DIET: Five Simple Rules for Healthy Weight Loss," Mastering Leptin, The Leptin Diet, Wellness Resources Books, Minneapolis, Mn..

"how leptin problems cause cancer, fibromyalgia, thyroid problems, heart disease, and of course - obesity   Leptin problems are now fully proven to be the primary cause of heart disease, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, circulatory inflammation, and hardening of the arteries. These factors have now been proven regardless of a person's body weight. Conversely, proper leptin function is highly protective of all factors relating to cardiovascular health.  when a person eats is actually more important than what they eat. Snacking turns out to be one of the most harmful eating habits. Those individuals who make a habit of eating late at night are on a fast track to accelerated aging, poor sleep, and poor health. This is not a fad diet, this is the new science – and every person needs to understand what it is all about."   Richards: Leptin books

Rosedale Ron, "Leptin -- Its Essential Role in Health, Disease, and Aging,"  Rosedale: Health disease & aging

Rosenbaum M et. al. Low dose leptin administration reverses effects of sustained weight-reduction on energy expenditure and circulating concentrations of thyroid hormones. J Clin Endocrinol Metab (2002) 87:2391-2394.

Russell Lisa M., "How to Check Leptin Levels," EHow Health,   Russell: checking leptin level



Singhal Atul, MD, I. Sadaf Farooqi, Tim J. Cole, Stephen O’Rahilly, Mary Fewtrell, Mia Kattenhorn, Alan Lucas, MD, John Deanfield, "Influence of Leptin on Arterial Distensibility: A Novel Link Between Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease?" July 24, 2002.   Singhal: Leptin CVD link

Testimonial by LaDawn July 21st, 2010: "I have been on the Leptin Diet for three weeks and am averaging 3 pounds per week. I have a lot of hormone problems, hypothyroid, hashimotos, female hormones and this diet has worked wonders for me. I felt starved on the South Beach diet and just found it impossible. I have never had a diet work for me like this one. I think the food portions and not eating between meals has worked wonders for me! Might not be for everyone but if you have hormone troubles..this is the diet for you! I also had adrenal disorder two years ago and finally now am feeling great. I was very, very ill for two years and now feel so much better. It also helps the Fibromyalgia a lot. If you have Fibromyalgis…get his Mastering Leptin book too. Both are best as the the Mastering Leptin can get into some heavy stuff and the paperback short version is a good read and simple to understand!" Richards: Leptin books

U.S. National Library of Medicine, "Obesity," National Institutes of Health, 1998.   US Library of Medicine: Obesity

Wikipedia Leptin  Wiki:Leptin